Always take Orders of Protection Seriously.
There are two different types of Orders of Protection.
One is a Petition for an Adult Abuse Order of Protection and the second is a Petition for Child Order of Protection. Sometimes, these types of cases are filed so often that people fail to take them seriously. However, there can be many serious consequences to the entry of an Order of Protection.
- Any violation of an Order of Protection can result in a criminal charge. At this time, for the first violation of an Order, the person violating the Order can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor, unless the person has previously pleaded guilty, or been found guilty, of violating an Order of protection within five years of the date of the subsequent violation, in which case the subsequent violation will be a felony. Obviously, criminal charges should never be taken lightly, and a person can be charged with violating an Order, even if the Respondent (the person against whom the order is entered) is invited to have contact with the Petitioner (the person who asked for the Order), by the Petitioner personally. For instance, if your wife got the Order against you, and then your wife asked you to come to her residence to assist her with a problem with your children, you can be charged with violating the Order, even though your wife asked you to come to her residence.
- If a full Order of Protection is entered after a hearing (trial), the entry of the Order (Judgment) can be used as a finding of abuse in other proceedings, especially in a Dissolution of Marriage, or Paternity, case. A consent Judgment cannot be used in a subsequent case, as a Respondent entering into a consent Judgment does not admit having done anything wrong, but simply agrees to stay away from the Petitioner.
- If a full Order of Protection is entered after a hearing, the Respondent is prohibited, under federal law, from possession, shipping, transporting and/or receiving any firearm for the duration of the Judgment. This means no hunting with a firearm, or possession of a firearm for any reason even for protection of person or home, or in connection with employment. If Respondent must possess a firearm in connection with employment, i.e. with military, law enforcement or private security, the Respondent may lose this employment after the entry of an Order of Protection. Some courts may suggest that this firearm prohibition only applies if the Judgment is entered after a trial, but not if the Judgment is entered by consent. However, other Courts maintain that the firearms restriction applies even to a Consent Judgment.
Other types of employment may also be affected by the entry of an Order of Protection against the Respondent, such as employment as a teacher, or other employment that puts the Respondent directly in contact with minor children.
If someone files a Petition for Order of Protection against you, you should immediately seek the assistance of an experienced attorney to assist you in defending this action, in order to secure the best possible outcome. If you are considering filing for an Order of Protection against someone that you hope to receive support from, you should seek the assistance of an experienced attorney to assist you. There may be other types of actions you can file that will protect you and/or your children that will not result in the loss of employment to the person whose income you will rely upon for support.
What to Do if You Lose Your Job and Owe Child Support
In most instances, a Court cannot change the amount of child support you were ordered to pay until you file a Motion to Modify the prior child support judgment. If you lose your job and are unable to pay your child support, you should immediately contact a lawyer to discuss the best way to address this problem and the best time to do so.
If you wait months, or even years, to go back to Court, and have accrued substantial arrearages, the Court may not be able to reduce, or eliminate, the arrearages even if it seems to you that the Court should do so. The Court may be allowed, under the law, to reduce a child support obligation only back to the date you filed your Motion to Modify and served it on the parent receiving the child support. So, if you owe child support, and lose your job, or even receive a substantial cut in your hours worked or pay received, immediately contact an attorney to discuss your circumstances and child support obligations.
About the Author:
Christine Miller Hendrix has practiced law in O’Fallon and greater St. Charles County for more than 35 years. She practices primarily in family law, including cases of child custody, child support, divorce, alimony, and adoption. She has been elected twice by the local bar association to serve as a Special Master for cases pending in Family Court. She has served as a Guardian ad Litem for minor children in cases pending in the Family Court. She is the provisional prosecutor for the City of Wright City, Missouri. Additionally, she is an Adjunct Professor at Lindenwood University, teaching family law to graduate level students in the Masters Counseling Program.